VorBlade™ - Beating Mother Nature At Her Own Game
“What’s the going rate for air drag? 30% of your fuel money, maybe 50% Could it be as much as 60%?”
Every mile you drive, the wind is robbing your truck and trailer of fuel economy. Even with the proverbial “tail wind”, wind drag is still working against your truck and trailer. We have all experienced strong crosswinds, especially if you operate a high profile vehicle. The EPA has recognized that while we can’t control the wind, if we can mitigate its effects aerodynamically, it will boost fuel economy.
Wind drag and air turbulence are issues important enough that the California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.) has passed regulations for trailer aerodynamics that are currently in effect for the state of California. Their reasoning is that by improving trailer aerodynamics, you will also improve fuel economy, reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint. C.A.R.B. has been the nation’s watchdog on greenhouse gas reduction, often having many other states eventually adopting their clean air regulations, such as the Anti-Idling laws. Most recently they have mandated that 53’ or longer box type trailers must use an EPA SmartWay approved aerodynamic devise that improves fuel economy by a minimum of 4% for refrigerated trailers and 5% increase for dry van trailers. Many van carriers have since installed trailer skirts and/or trailer end fairing, not only to comply with C.A.R.B. regulations, but also to improve fuel economy. Today trailer skirts are a common sight on our nation’s highways.
Avantechs, Inc., a Boulder, Colorado engineering firm, has studied wind drag and turbulence for years. The company has worked with the FAA and other government agencies to conduct studies on the subject. While the studies were done on wind drag and turbulence in general, Avantechs was asked what could be done to improve wind drag for tractors/trailers specifically. Avantechs then launched a series of studies of different products to reduce wind drag for commercial vehicles. After a year of testing and engineering, Avantechs developed the VorBlade™, a small lightweight cup-like devise that works as a vortex generator. Air enters the front of the VorBlade™ unit and is funneled through the turbine channels, exiting in two air vortices that are controlled for about ten feet behind the device.
By installing multiple VorBlade™ devices (the average is about 48 per tractor) at the back of each side of the cab and the tractor’s roof, an invisible shield is created. The streams of channeled air that exit the VorBlade™ keep air turbulence from beating on the front of the trailer, reducing wind drag. Although designed primarily for van trailers, VorBlade™ will also help reduce the wind drag on the headache rack of flatbed trailers as well.
To verify results, Avantechs conducted modified SAE J1321 testing, first on the Colorado highways and then by a third-party testing company to EPA specifications. The results found that by reducing wind drag, VorBlade™ could improve overall fuel economy by as much as 8.5%, depending on application.
Installed at the back of the trailer, VorBlade™ also has aerodynamic benefits as well. Recognizing this fact, Avantechs engineers developed the VorBlade Wing System™. The system utilizes individual VorBlades™ mounted on a strip that fastens securely to the rear sides and top of the trailer, eliminating turbulence at the rear of the trailer and also reducing wind drag. Avantechs then added the Crosswind Mitigator Subsystem to the VorBlade Wing System™ as it is installed on the trailer roof, but runs the length of the trailer on both sides. The Crosswinds Mitigator Subsystem is proven to mitigate the effects of crosswinds by as much as 60%, especially on trailers equipped with trailer skirts. Both systems used together can equate to an overall fuel economy savings of up to 7.5%. By using all three VorBlade™ systems, fuel economy gains of up to 9% can be realized.
The VorBlade Wing System™ can be used in conjunction with trailer skirts to further enhance fuel economy. However, since the VorBlade Wing System™ and Crosswind Mitigator Subsystem exceed EPA SmartWay mandated minimum fuel savings of 5% on the trailer, they are C.A.R.B. compliant and can be used instead of trailer skirts.
Avantechs, Inc. is excited to soon be able to offer a new aerodynamic technology called Turbo Skirts™. Turbo Skirts™ is a revolutionary new trailer skirts that employ VorBlade™ principles to control wind drag and crosswinds. Instead of diverting air like standard trailer skirts, the Turbo Skirts™ use deflectors and slots to control and smooth airflow, using a wave breaker design. The Turbo Skirts™ not only diverts wind, but smoothes crosswind turbulence as well. Turbo Skirts™ are still in the engineering and testing phase, however Avantechs, Inc. will have a prototype at both TMC and MATS and is seeking industry’s input about the product. The company plans to conduct real-time freight hauling testing on the Turbo Skirts™ in the months to come before offering the product to the public.
While fuel economy is the obvious advantage to all the VorBlade™ systems, there are other, more subtle benefits as well. The front and back of the trailer will be much cleaner and the vehicles behind the trailer will experience improved visibility. By mitigating crosswinds, safety is enhanced and driver stress and fatigue are reduced as well.
The VorBlade™ systems are easily installed or removed and do not add significant weight to the tractor or trailer. At about 2 ounces each, the VorBlade™ will only add about 6 pounds to the tractor and the VorBlade Wing System™ with Crosswinds Mitigator Subsystem adds about 54 pounds of combined weight. The VorBlade™ cab kit includes a template to aid in installations. Avantechs, Inc makes all products in the U.S.A.
For additional information, log onto www.VorBlade.com, where you can watch entertaining animations about VorBlade performance and air drag or call 303-HIGHWAY (444-4929). Use code MOVE1303 to get a 10% discount on your purchase.